Adult day care
Adult day care centers are places where adults receiving care gather to socialize under the supervision of trained staff. This article explains how adult day care works and how it can benefit both the person receiving care and the caregiver. It then describes the two main kinds of adult day care, some common services, and how to find an adult day care.
How adult day care works
Adult day care centers are places where adults receiving care gather to socialize under the supervision of trained staff. The main purpose of adult day care is to give people receiving care a chance to interact with others and, in some cases, receive physical therapy or rehabilitation. It is also meant to give family caregivers a break from their responsibilities.
Some adult day care programs are held in standalone centers, while others take place in facilities such as senior centers, hospitals, faith centers, or schools. They are regulated by the states and usually need to be licensed or certified and provide at least a minimum set of services.
About 60% of adult day care centers are nonprofit, and the average cost is about $80 a day.1 This makes them a good lower-cost alternative to in-home care or a care home. Most of them offer transportation to and from the center for the person receiving care.
Benefits of adult day care
Adult day care can benefit both the person receiving care and their caregiver. Those who attend often have a better sense of well-being2 and feel less lonely and isolated. Having a social outlet can help people preserve their sense of dignity, belonging, and independence from their caregiver. In addition, the many activities that most centers offer, such as exercise, music, games, and entertainment, can stimulate memory, increase human connection, and lower feelings of anxiety, depression, and apathy.3
Caregivers benefit by getting a rest from their caregiving duties. They feel less overloaded and get better sleep.4 There is evidence that family caregivers are less depressed when their loved one is attending adult day care5 and that they feel less anxious about their loved one, which can help them have a better relationship. Having the person receiving care in adult day care also allows caregivers to continue working.
Adult day care services
There are two main kinds of adult day care programs: social and health care. Adult social day care usually offers social activities and recreation, along with nutritious meals. Common activities include singing, parties, outings, exercises, games (for example, balloon volleyball and bingo), and watching TV or movies.
Adult health care day cares, sometimes called adult day healthcare, offer more medical care in addition to social activities. These can include nursing services from a registered or licensed nurse, physical and speech therapy, dental and foot care, and specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. An adult health care day care program may have a wider range of meal options for special dietary needs.
Finding an adult day care
There are several easy ways to find local adult day care programs. You can enter your zip code into the locator bar of the National Adult Day Services Association (NASDA), which will bring up all adult day care centers across the country that have membership with NASDA. Or, you can enter your zip code into the adult day care locator of SeniorCare.com, which will bring up a map and list of centers.
Another option is to contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), which will be able to give you a list of adult day care programs in your area. You can find the contact information for your AAA by entering your zip code iThe role of day care in supporting older people living with long-term conditions. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care.n the Eldercare Locator.
Adult day care centers and programs vary widely, so it is a good idea to check into the details of the center being considered for the person receiving care. Some factors to consider are how long the center has been operating, whether it has a license/certification, and what kind of training the staff have. You will also want to explore whether the center or program has services and staff that are appropriate to the person receiving care. For instance, if the person has dementia, the center needs to have specialized care and trained staff for this.
Anticipate impacts on your personal life
Avoid feeling alone, isolated, or incapable
Balance care responsibilities
Create a care plan
Deal with caregiver burnout
Deal with caregiver depression
Find trusted sources of help
Get help and support
Join a caregiver community
Minimize family confusion, disagreements, and frustration
Take care of yourself emotionally
Take care of yourself physically
1Adult Day Care: What Family Caregivers Need to Know. AARP.
2Adult Day Center Programs and Their Associated Outcomes on Clients, Caregivers, and the Health System: A Scoping Review. The Gerontologist.
3Top 5 Reasons for Choosing Adult Day Services. Friendship Centers.org.
4Adult Day Care: What Family Caregivers Need to Know. AARP.
5The role of day care in supporting older people living with long-term conditions. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care.